A critical perspective on fund raising communication: genre in search of rhetoric

Robert G. House (Robert G. House is Assistant Dean for External Affairs and Director of Development for the University of Arizona Libraries in Tucson, Arizona, USA)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Publication date: 1 August 1997


Describes how professional fund‐raisers write and speak persuasively to many audiences, utilizing various media. Explains that the essence of fund‐raising is motivating individuals through symbolic action to behave in a desired way. Argues that fund‐raising is essentially a rhetorical exercise and that the utilization of criteria for assessing rhetorical acts is warranted. Rhetorical criteria direct the fund‐raiser to ask important questions pertaining to the purpose, audience, barriers ‐ the rhetorical problem ‐ and the structure of persuasive communication. Argues also that the fundamental Aristotelian genre is apparent in most fund‐raising rhetorical acts and the genre is identified through recurring characteristics of the rhetoric and helps to define the relationship between form and content. Maintains that successful fund‐raisers relied as much on experience and intuition as on formal rhetorical theory but rhetorical criteria may provide the practitioner with a template by which to create persuasive symbolic action in a broader context not limited to a single communicative act.



House, R. (1997), "A critical perspective on fund raising communication: genre in search of rhetoric", Library Management, Vol. 18 No. 5, pp. 229-234. https://doi.org/10.1108/01435129710176733

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Copyright © 1997, MCB UP Limited

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